Palaeoinsights—Editorial Tips

Valentí Rull
2018 Quaternary  
Quaternary promotes a special type of papers called 'Palaeoinsights', which are essay and opinion papers addressing author's personal views on different Quaternary topics in relation to either the discipline itself, its potential interest for society, or both. 'Palaeoinsights' are aimed at providing a forum for constructive conceptual, theoretical and philosophical discussion on important topics in Quaternary science. Important objectives are to progress towards agreement on controversial
more » ... controversial issues, to introduce new unconventional approaches to existing problems, to find novel pathways of scientific progress and to enhance the scope of Quaternary research as the basis for a more integrative view of our discipline within the framework of earth sciences. Introspection on the nature and peculiarities of Quaternary research, its historical development and its potential impact on society are also relevant matters of concern. As a natural science, Quaternary research relies on empirical evidence. The interpretation of this evidence, however, is not always straightforward, due to the inherent complexity of the natural world and the interdisciplinary character of Quaternary studies. This may result in differences among researchers and research groups that could lead to disparate views of the same fact or phenomenon. It could be argued that such subjectivity is contrary to scientific practice, where objectivity is imperative. But idiosyncratic differences are inherent to human nature and we should deal with them, not only in science but also in all aspects of life. One of the foundations of this topical collection is the conviction that, rather than dismissing or ignoring differential traits, we can take advantage of them to produce better science. After all, science is a collective activity that largely relies on constructive discussions of different ideas and approaches to understand the world in which we live and to use such knowledge for the benefit of humankind. To achieve this, we should openly expose our own ideas to the scrutiny of the scientific community, rather than insisting on the validity of our personal points of view and dismissing the suitability of others. Scientific objectivity emerges from the discussion of all possible explanations, approaches and points of view. Relying on a single approach to explain natural phenomena is useless to science as, sooner or later, new evidence comes out that requires a different or a more general explanation. Science is not a dogmatic enterprise and scientific reliability requires permanent revision of the existing theories. An open-minded attitude is thus the better recipe for scientific progress. 'Palaeoinsights' also provides room for speculation, an underrated intellectual exercise that is frequently censored in scientific publications as it is considered worthless for scientific progress. However, speculation can also be viewed as the first step of scientific reasoning in the way towards the explanation of the observed natural phenomena. Indeed, it is hard to understand how a testable hypothesis could be erected without a previous speculative scrutiny. In addition, the difference between speculation and other widely unquestioned scientific realizations such as hypothesis development or modelling is not always clear; therefore, avoiding speculation may run against scientific progress [1] . 'Palaeoinsights' welcomes speculation provided it is scientifically sound and able to contribute to the progress of earth sciences. Another rationale of this topical collection is the belief that scientists would like to think, not only in terms of what we do-i.e., the scientific research itself-but also in other aspects such as why we do
doi:10.3390/quat1010005 fatcat:265dr6mh3ng2ro5ufajhoqrxpq